How can MaaS beat the offer for private cars ?

Figure 1 credit: 


The third MaaS Congress was held by the city of Antwerp in the AMUZMuziek Center, which is an old and beautiful converted Augustinian church. The congress brought together the finest MaaS initiatives in Flanders and in the Netherlands, gathering approximately 150 people. Two transversal topics were widely addressed: how should MaaS and mobility be governed? and what are the challenges regarding people? This paper will present the positions of the various stakeholders and seek to influence them as much as possible according to its own conclusions. 


There is no widely accepted definition of MaaS as of yet. The main idea behind it consists in gathering all the means of transport available: public, private, trains, cars… into a single seamless offer, (meaning planned, booked and paid for on the same app.). In this perspective different roles are emerging: the customer, passenger, user, citizen is the demand. The public transport organizations operate networks of buses, trams, trains and metros constitute the backbone of the mobility. All the initiatives to share means of transportation, such as scooter, bike and car-pooling are completing the offer and giving birth to as many apps, proposed by “mobility providers”. Finally, some platforms seek to gather all the existing initiatives at different levels: planning, booking or ticketing. they are called the “MSP” for MaaS Services Providers. 


There is no doubt possible, since the few years that the word “MaaS” was coined, one of the first key lessons learned concerns its governance. Why are public authorities in the best position to launch MaaS initiatives? Because they have the legitimacy to do what other players can’t: define the geographical perimeter of the offer, propose a unique API, gather all the MaaS operators, settle a clear transport policy… To do so, they need knowledge even more than money. The mobility won’t be influenced by detailed urban development plans. It will be regulated through algorithms. Let’s use a concrete example with the free floats: E-scooters spread in a non-regulated environment. They settle everywhere in the city center, following a certain demand, without respecting any protocol. The city could manage their repartition by issuing a digital mapping and indicate the right zones to park. The e-scooters providers would integrate the city platform in order to reach the demand, and respect the city’s rules. In other words, MaaS is a unique opportunity for the public authorities to provide a large, regulated, inclusive and sustainable transport offer. The next step is, how make this offer meet the demand?


By beating the use of personal cars and making it know. Koen Kennis is, among others, responsible for mobility in Antwerp. He proposes to support people in making the right choices. For him, these consist in the easiest way to move. To achieve this, people need to be made aware of the available offers and then trust them. This first step already costs € 200’000 for a limited area specifies Sven Huysmans. Regarding the second point, the assembly gathered could hear the echoing voice of Henri Ford; “The two most important things in any company do not appear in its balance sheet: its reputation and its people.”. To conquest high NPS and reputation, Sven Huysmans recommends the use of big names. Even with a well-known and trustworthy offer, the use of a private car is not that easy to get rid of. You know where it is, you know how to use it, you are used to it, you know very precisely how long it will take; and all this never mind the weather or strikes. Why would you change? Sometimes you don’t admit it, but you’re even looking forward to listening “Start je dag” stuck in the traffic. This phenomenon is called habits and provides an incomparable sense of security that is very complex to change. 74% km are done by cars in Belgium, “a transition that must be guided by the authorities in collaboration with the markets” recalls Eric Mink, the Program manager MaaS for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure. 


So far, the offer is not ready: MaaS is not born. But ultrasound carried out at this congress already shows us what the structure of tomorrow’s transport will be like. The role of the public authority is central and cannot be subcontracted. The offer capable of handling the use of the personal car will include many mobility services, will be reliable, easy to use and known by all. Concretely, Paul Rooijmans, founder at Tranzer suggests: “any vehicle parked on public space should be in public access”. Is the generalization of the shared economy the transport offer of tomorrow? 


Thanks to Promedia Group who organized this event, 

Thanks to the city of Antwerp who hosted the congress.




Louis-Antoine Calvy, consultant at Bartle

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